UK Release date: 16th June 2005
Watched on DVD Sunday 8th July 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
It has been a while since I first saw this film and I had forgotten just how good it was! Totally epic with a tremendous soundtrack by James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer, it really takes your breath away. I thought Tim Burton’s 1989 re-imagining of the Batman story was good but this was truly epic. Not that Nolan hasn’t borrowed from Burton to some extent; it’s very dark in tone and the styling is very gothic, just as in Burton’s version. Where this has the edge is in the way the story is told and how the characters evolve… But more of that later, here’s a very brief summary before I tell you more.
When his parents are murdered by a mugger young Bruce Wayne is devastated. He has inherited the Wayne fortune but later, when the man responsible for his parents’ murder is himself murdered by crime boss, Carmine Falcone; he leaves to travel the world and learn how to defeat men like him. Eventually he comes across Henri Ducard who, in turn, introduces him to Ra’s Al Ghul, the leader of a fighting force who call themselves the League of Shadows. They are sworn to destroy evil in the world, no matter the cost. Wayne trains with them and he is forced to face his darkest fears. When the time comes for him to join them though, he refuses and returns to Gotham. Here the family butler, Alfred helps him re-enter society and gain a place back at the family business. He now has a purpose and uses the company resources, with the help of former board member, Lucius Fox, to equip himself for the next phase of his plan – the Batman. His childhood sweetheart, now district attorney, Rachel Dawes and a cop, Jim Gordon, become part of his plan to bring down Carmine Falcone; but are there are other, more sinister, parties behind him?... I will leave it there or the Spoiler Police (Gotham Division) will have me manning the bat-signal (again).
Beautifully shot with some stunning CGI; chiefly used for the cityscapes of Gotham, and they look great. The sets and locations all blur seamlessly together and make for a visual treat; Nolan certainly has an eye for this kind of thing. All the performances were excellent; especially Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, he really nailed it. I must also give praise to Michael Caine as Alfred; a role he could have been born to play, I thought he was perfect. Katie Holmes was also very good as Rachel Dawes, as were Liam Neeson as Henri Ducard, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon. I will give honourable mentions to; Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow, Tom Wilkinson as Carmine Falcone, Rutger Hauer as Earle and Ken Watanabe as Ra’s Al Ghul. Oh, and if you look carefully you might spot a young Jack Gleeson (currently on TV’s ‘A Game of Thrones’) in a minor role.
I’m sure that many people saw ‘The Dark Knight’, the sequel to this film, and wet back to re-watch this one. I have, of course, seen both but decided to re-watch them in order so I can get some perspective before the third instalment is released in a couple of weeks. As I said at the beginning, I had forgotten just how epic this film was and how it manages to hold your attention virtually all the way through. All the characters are quite believable (despite being based on a fantasy comic book) and their motivations are made clear. Something that many filmmakers forget but something that is vitally important when it comes to keeping the attention of the audience. For me, one of the best origin story movies I’ve seen and one I have no problem in deeming… HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
My score: 9.1/10
IMDb Score: 8.3/10 (based on 414,263 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: 70/100: (Based on 41 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 85/100 (based on 261 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 90/100 ‘Liked it’ (based on 969,838 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Bruce Wayne: They told me there was nothing out there, nothing to fear. But the night my parents were murdered I caught a glimpse of something. I've looked for it ever since. I went around the world, searched in all the shadows. And there is something out there in the darkness, something terrifying, something that will not stop until it gets revenge... Me.
[Bruce is refusing to demonstrate his commitment to justice by executing a criminal]
Ra's Al Ghul: You cannot lead these men unless you are prepared to do what is necessary to defeat evil.
Bruce Wayne: And where would I be leading these men?
Ra's Al Ghul: Gotham. As Gotham's favoured son you will be ideally placed to strike at the heart of criminality.
Bruce Wayne: How?
Ra's Al Ghul: Gotham's time has come. Like Constantinople or Rome before it the city has become a breeding ground for suffering and injustice. It is beyond saving and must be allowed to die. This is the most important function of the League of Shadows. It is one we've performed for centuries. Gotham... must be destroyed.
Dr. Jonathan Crane: I am more than aware that you are not intimidated by *me*, Mr. Falcone. But you know who I'm working for, and when he gets here...
Carmine Falcone: He-he's coming to Gotham?
Dr. Jonathan Crane: Yes he is. And when he gets here, he's not gonna want to hear that you have endangered our operation just to get your thugs out of a little jail time.
Earle: Jessica, where are you?
[walks into outer room]
Bruce Wayne: [to Jessica] Eye on the ball, and...
Earle: Why is no one answering the phone?
[sees Bruce from behind, teaching Jessica to play golf]
Bruce Wayne: [turning around] It's Wayne Enterprises, Mr. Earle, I'm sure they'll call back.
Earle: Bruce? You're supposed to be dead.
Bruce Wayne: I'm sorry to disappoint.
Batman: Falcone sent them to kill you.
Rachel Dawes: Why?
Batman: You rattled his cage.
[throws photos of Judge Faden with prostitutes]
Rachel Dawes: What's this?
Rachel Dawes: For what?
Batman: To get things moving.
Rachel Dawes: Who are you?
Batman: Someone like you. Someone who'll rattle the cages.
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Official Site: http://www2.warnerbros.com/batmanbegins/index.html